How to Fight Gerrymandering

Gerrymandering is the unethical process by which one party which is currently dominant in a state attempts to maintain its dominance by drawing districts for state legislators or Congressmen to favor that party and its candidates. It is the very antithesis of democracy, in which the people are to elect their leaders and representatives; instead, in gerrymandering, the representatives choose what people they want to have voting for them. This allows certain extremist nutcases like Rep. Michelle Bachmann to be elected over and over again without fear of losing their seats to a more moderate opposing candidate.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering

Illustrated in that Wikipedia entry are some particular examples of gerrymandering, but the most obvious one of all seems to be:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois%27s_4th_congressional_district

GerrymanderingThere is simply no excuse for this, no matter what party commits it!  If Republicans filed a lawsuit to change or eliminate this district, I would support them too.

I have come up with an idea on how to identify gerrymandered districts.

CircleUsing the circle and the point indicating its center, I propose that any district that touches at least three points 45 degrees apart from each other and also contains the point at the center of the circle may be considered a fairly drawn district. By this test, the 4th Congressional District in Illinois would certainly not qualify. Nor would:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina%27s_12th_congressional_district

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California%27s_23rd_congressional_district

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois%27_17th_congressional_district

All those districts should be opposed. I would lobby for a bill to be passed by Congress and in every state legislature mandating my standard for all congressional and state legislative districts. I would also ask for the federal courts to intervene. Indeed, I would strongly recommend that only federal courts, not state legislatures, be allowed to draw districts. Otherwise, it is like the fox guarding the hen-house.

Guilt by Association Among Religions

The version of the flaming chalice currently u...

The version of the flaming chalice currently used as the logo of the Unitarian Universalist Association. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is no secret that the Unitarian and Universalist movements, which have merged in the United States into the Unitarian Universalist Association, had their origins in Christianity. Therefore, people who are inclined to reject Christianity will often reject the UUA too, without considering that non-Christians have been welcome in it since it was founded in 1961. Continue reading

Rape, School Sports and Small Town Insanity

P Z Myers put the spotlight on a teenage rapist yesterday:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/10/14/matthew-barnett-sleazebag-and-rapist

The story is sadly typical of small towns and their pathetic bigotries, but what really drew my attention later was a comment below it. (Emphasis mine.)

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/10/14/matthew-barnett-sleazebag-and-rapist/comment-page-1/#comment-705351

39
MarkM1427

15 October 2013 at 1:04 am (UTC -5)

Anonymous? That scumbag will wish he only had the cops to deal with. If only they’d go after the media for not calling this shit what it is: an inexcusable, unforgivable act of violence against another human being. I didn’t see a word of this until ThinkProgress shared it on Facebook. I wonder why no one else seems to give a shit about the actual victims here. Ever since I first read this story it’s been stuck in the back of my head. It obviously pisses me off, but it also hits close to home in several ways for me.

As outraged as I am about this, I’m not at all surprised. It’s not the first time I’ve heard about a small town demonizing the victims who dared to put the town through the trauma of dealing with the fact that a heinous crime happened in their neighborhood instead of, you know, the actual criminal. A similar story of what happened to my grandmother has stuck with my family for nearly 50 years. (I’m not going to derail the thread with the whole story, but a small town covered up the murder of her mother since the guy who did it was close to powerful people in the town.) Why can’t this shit ever change?

And this has finally done it. I thought I would never say this, but I can’t go on believing that athletic programs are a positive influence for students. Even though I benefited from sports myself, I can’t support them anymore. I was an athlete in high school, and to this day I believe that being part of the football team did a lot to make me more social then. I have Asperger’s and I might not have as much as spoken a word the whole four years if I didn’t join one group or another. For so long I defended these sports programs as something that could be a great influence on the athletes if the coaches actually gave a damn about that like the ones I had did.

But no more. I now see that my experience was the exception, not the rule. School sports, much like religion, corrupts the adults who are involved in it, you know, the ones that are supposed to ACT LIKE ADULTS. If sports programs warp peoples’ minds to the point that they are consistently willing to enable rape by athletes in the name of winning a fucking ball game, they are toxic to society and we should cast them out of schools.

I don’t intend to derail the thread with the tangent I know I went off on, but this story has had my mind spinning faster than a centrifuge ever since I read it. I can’t wait for the town to finally have the wrath of the rest of the country descend on them for the scumbags they are.

And that led me to ask what, if anything, do sports programs have to do with the actual process of education? Nothing that I can see. Yet almost every school and college out there has a sports program which no doubt costs money to maintain. Perhaps it is time to start putting pressure on schools to eliminate funding for sports programs before they even think of eliminating anything else from a school’s budget!

A Family of Enablers

This is a true story, with names changed for privacy’s sake. Before you read it, read this definition of an “enabler”.

http://www.asktheinternettherapist.com/articles/enabler-definition/

An enabler is a person who by their actions make it easier for an addict to continue their self-destructive behavior by criticizing or rescuing. The term codependency refers to a relationship where one or both parties enable the other to act in certain maladaptive ways. Many times, the act of the enabler satisfies a need for the codependent person because his or her actions foster a need from the other person or persons in the relationship.

There was once a girl named Suzanne. When she was 15, she became pregnant, but the father was completely unknown; it was rumored that he was an illegal immigrant. So she gave birth to her son Darren.  Her family, rather than force her to take care of Darren full time, allowed Suzanne to dump the baby on her mother and sister Cathy while she continued to party all the time. As a result, Suzanne became pregnant again at the age of 17, this time giving birth to a daughter, Cindy, whose father was also unknown. As the years went by, the extended family of Suzanne showered gifts to Suzanne’s children on their birthdays as well as every Christmas, rather than have Suzanne be the chief provider for those children. Then at age 20, Suzanne became pregnant yet again, and her 16 year old sister Cathy also became pregnant at the same time. Both sisters gave birth to babies that year, Suzanne to a boy named Charles and Cathy to a girl named Penny. Finally, Suzanne had a fourth baby, a girl named Millie, at age 24. In all Suzanne’s cases, the fathers never took responsibility for their children, instead, the family continued to enable her by showering all the children with gifts every year, thus rewarding Suzanne by proxy for having them.

Suzanne only responded to the love shown to her children by continuing to screw up. Last I heard, she was addicted to drugs and had gone to jail over it.

Did it ever occur to Suzanne’s family that if they had disowned Suzanne after she got pregnant the second or third time and forced her to live strictly on her own with her as the only support for her kids, she might have come to her senses and stopped having babies out of wedlock and avoided partying and drugs? That maybe her sister might also have not gotten pregnant?  That the family as a whole would be much more functional than they ended up being? Love is a wonderful thing, but it is possible to have too much love for someone and end up failing them.

“Classical” Atheism vs. “Contemporary” Atheism

Once again, I find myself dealing with the tiresome issue of the competing definitions of Atheism. See my previous blog entries on this subject for references:

https://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/atheism-is-a-dogma-get-over-it/

https://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/misdefining-terms-for-purposes-of-propaganda/

https://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/make-up-your-minds-atheists/

https://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/richard-dawkins-is-an-agnostic/

https://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/is-agnostic-an-obsolete-term/

Now I learn that Aron-Ra, a fellow Texan and activist against promoting Creationist bigotry and lies in public schools, has not only accepted the “contemporary” definition of atheism, he asserts that the “classical” definition of it was a lie all along! Really??? Continue reading

An Open Letter to President Barack Obama

To Barack Obama, the President of the United States of America:

The Affordable Care Act is the LAW OF THE LAND, passed by both Houses of Congress (yes, even the Republican controlled House of Representatives), signed by you, and affirmed as constitutional by the U. S. Supreme Court. Therefore, attempts by Republicans in Congress to DEFUND what is federal law is criminal behavior, just as disobedience to any other law is criminal behavior. We should allow no exceptions here. By engaging in criminal behavior, the Republicans sitting in Congress, even going so far as to shut down the government rather allow what is federal law to be funded have forfeited their right to be representatives of the people, like anyone else who commits a federal crime. I call upon you, as the elected Chief Executive of the United States, to direct the Department of Justice to issue arrest warrants against every Republican in Congress and charge them all with CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT SEDITION! END THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN BY REMOVING THE ONES RESPONSIBLE FROM OFFICE NOW!

Dale Husband, the Honorable Skeptic